The Great Adventure Up North

Auckland – Russell – Cape Reinga – Paihia – Whangarei Heads – Auckland

Day 1

The trip starts at Sudini’s with an impromptu breakfast of tea with jam on toast.  The van is amazing and FatGoat navigates (with some firm misdirection from all the backseat drivers) to our first stop for lunch / breakfast (and IMG_7852for Sudini to pee) at a café somewhere along the way.. Anyone remember where that was?   We are accosted by a friendly wasp and we discuss the strange behaviour of a friend’s parent that calls at strange times for strange reasons.  I eat my pizza and salad in a de-constructive method and Midget steals a mushroom from FatGoat.

The date scone is delicious.   FatGoat’s commentary during failed attempts to overtake is hilarious: “No!! No! No! Nooo!!”

The ferry is amusing and the quote of the trip so far is from FatGoat.  We arrive at our destination and that first glimpse of the interior and view is breath-taking.

If I spread jam on bread, really slowly, does that make it a Slow Jam? – FatGoat

The first impressions are of white, clean, and artfully colourfully cluttered space.  IMG_7853Leading to nothing short of sunlit happiness by way of loungers overlooking a view to lose yourself in.  That feeling of warm wood on the soles of your feet..

Sudini and I dibs the best room to compensate for our lack of a ‘sex-partner’ and we all settle in by stripping off (some more than others) and getting many shades browner.  Suckymoto’s chill-out playlist, mindfood magazines, vodka+juice, yoga. IMG_7860

A plan for dinner in Russell is formed and we clothe ourselves and pack into our van – and drive down to a beautifully quaint and picturesque Russell township for the earliest dinner ever at 5pm.  The music envelopes and the old tree sways a small welcome.

The Duke is accommodating.  Bottles of wine are opened and the food is ordered and enjoyed; especially the kumara bread with mascarpone cheese spread.  We have ambitions of dessert but the meal sates our appetites and we leave happy and contented.  The soloist narrowly escapes an advance from a slightly tipsy me – being encouraged by everyone else.

We drive home, have chocolate, and I make Black Russians for the inexperienced but eager cocktail drinkers.  We talk for a while, of music genres and slowly fall back to our rooms, resting content in the warm happiness of having made good use of a perfect day.

Except FatGoat. FatGoat falls into a small coma on the couch listening to dub step and Sudini, already startled awake by a confused me, must arise to shoo him down to his rightful place.

Day 2

The morning light reveals another beautiful day and we start with a light breakfast and yoga on the deck.  The song of birds and wind in the trees.. the rhythm of waves crashing on an unseen beach.

We leave (after a sun-filled pause waiting for Schlomo FatGoat) to our next port of call: The Cape.

IMG_7937Our first stop is again to answer a call of nature – at a small beach where the water is unbelievably colourful and rich but where the sand is sea-weed strewn.  The incident of the seaweed-down-Midget’s-back unfolds.  Suckymoto instigates; FatGoat attempts to implement; I run interference and Midget defends then retaliates.  Midget then holds a grudge against both FatGoat and Suckymoto until lunch (which we have at another town I can’t recall).  We have salads, breakfasts, coffees, and toasted sandwiches in the cold wind before we retire inside for more sandwiches and a beautiful beetroot cake with amazing cream.IMG_7941

Wocean drives us for hours and hours; punctuated by discussions on Outward Bound, chewing gum disposal, life and music before we finally arrive at our destination: Cape Reinga. Where the spirits depart this earth for the heavens.  The scenes are spectacular, the sea vociferous and awe-inspiring: shimmering in the glorious sunlight that warms.   The mixing of the currents is hypnotic to watch; the wind firm, strong and cleansing in it’s vigour.

Midget reveals a small fear of heights – but one that she feels drawn to test; Sukymoto revels a surprisingly bad Maori singing accent and almost pushes me into the Tasman Sea.. or would that have been the Pacific Ocean?  My heart skipped one beat but I felt no less alive than I had previously.  Midget looks amazing in borrowed sunglasses; FatGoat’s back becomes the final resting place for some chewing gum; my hipster hat stays on my head despite all windy efforts to remove it – and I have a wonderfully blonde moment trying to take a girly selfie.  We leave slowly and return to our van where I grab dibs on the driving; and the playlist.

We turn off to sand dunes and the road is gravel (yes!!) after a few stomach-testing moments we arrive at the dunes IMG_7965themselves which are impressively large and imposing in the fading light.  We cross the smallest of streams to an other worldly landscape of alternately cold and hard, or soft and dry sand, rippled by long-gone winds and peppered with hardy little patches of grass and stone.  Despite all FatGoat’s misgivings Suckymoto Midget and I attempt the climb to the top of the closest (and largest) dune.  Suckymoto makes it all the way over the precipice (only to find that there is just yet more dune to conquer) while Midget and I make it ½ and ¾ of the way up respectively – only getting that far by following in the footsteps of those that have gone before us.  [There is a moral in that I’m sure].

The way down is much more fun – and no sand was left in any cracks by virtue of employing the bum-slide method however Suckymoto decided on the rolling-sideways method which resulted in sand everywhere.  Including sand stuck to the stubble on the back of his head.  Good times.  The oranges / apples we ate after that were the best tasting in recent memory.

We leave, and I drive the remainder of the way home in the dark windy night singing along to the first playlist I ever made. My rendition of ‘The Best of You’ provides much amusement for Sudini (who, as it transpires, is not the only one who can’t remember lyrics) and we play an interesting game of I spy.. somewhat challenging in the pitch darkness, on rural patches of state highway in NZ, going at about 80kph.

FatGoat’s ‘number’ and ‘triangle’ lead to heated discussions between the two boys – so damn amusing hearing them argue! Meanwhile I start to lose my voice singing along to almost every song that is played.  I get some respite when we turn to Mariah for a while.

We order ahead and pick up Thai takeaways from the Green in Paihia (with ice cream – good idea girls!) and then catch a ferry back in the moonlight night serenaded by the likes of Sinatra and Buble. Magic.

Thai food; Gin and Tonics (for the eager but virginal drinkers); and discussions about the rise of the hipster phenomenon.  Am I a hipster? Because I have a cool hat and scarf?  Je refuse.  More discussions over chocolate – politics this time; wrapped in warm furry throws co-ordinated in color, we argue.  And finally agree to disagree and rest our weary heads again for another night.

Day 3

Another beautiful days dawns and Sudini Wocean and I gather in the lounge to drink tea, coffee, and glory in the morning sounds… the sky clouds over quickly and turns to rain as we settle for a breakfast of omelettes with Kapiti Tuteremoana (cheddar) cheese, mushrooms, shallots, garlic and thai chilli.

IMG_8014We play Dixit for the first time and Wocean dominates.  Chocolate, Easter eggs, smoky red wine and hipster hat portraits.  The Clockwork Orange eye.  Sauteed mushrooms, shallots and mustard on crackers.  The late drive into town for lunch which ends up being at another Thai place and then get ice creams (yoghurt in Su’s case) on our way to a beach stop.

The beach is rich.  After a bit of prompting from Sudini IMG_8019& Wocean we all discover the low tide rock pools full of hermit crabs, small fish, kina, a strange moving clump of pink and grey seaweed, small spider like crabs, one big crab and about a million mussels / barnacles (?) stuck to the rocks.  Oh and starfish!! We also discover hither-to unknown (and completely un anticipated) ninja qualities in FatGoat.

We return to soak in the spa while looking out over a spectacular sunset.. Spa conversations and happenings are interesting: my naked photo; the humming game, Sudini being persuaded to date.  Suckymoto gets out and bring us drinks – then walks into a closed glass door full pelt!  He also sprinkles cold water on Midget and I (the last two in) in a fultile attempt to persuade us to get out for dinner.

IMG_8023Dinner plans are thwarted by an early-closing kitchen at the pizza place; but we concoct a plan for emergency pasta.  The boys head out and Sudini and I tidy up and prepare – garlic, my amazingly hot habanero, lots and lots of parmesan and pepper.. plus jar pasta sauce, penne pasta, nachos and guacamole.  Oh and Buble.  Dancing to Buble makes everything better.  More gin and tonics for the table and we sit down to a very, very satisfying meal.  Wocean is absent due to a full tummy, which itself is due to ice cream consumption while waiting for dinner to materialise.

We play another game of Dixit and I win this time – partially to good observation but mostly due to Wocean’s absence.  Cough Syrup? Global Warming? More political discussion and another glorious sleep.

Day 4

The morning brings packing, cleaning, eating left overs (toasted hot cross buns!), saving & destroying moths, occasional sun and occasional showers.  We pack up and drive off – good by Schindler’s Rest!!

IMG_8040We breakfast in Paihia – where the location is spectacular but the food is disappointing (but NOT the wine!).  We listen to children play the most amazing music on an open piano and wander over to town where I find a block of Kauri that I like the look of and we all choose our favourite pieces in a local exhibition.. but do not buy them.

We head over to Whangarei Heads (where I almost strip off at a petrol station (WTF happened to my belt??), Sudini drinks her ice cream despite knowing it’s probably a bad idea) and meet Joanne & Reef & the very entertaining neighbourhood dogs.

IMG_8053Jo & Reef are lovely, the pepino is not, and we form a piece-meal plan to acquire the trappings of the perfect holiday ensemble: plane, house, 4×4, jet skis, boats.. kayaks.. sigh.

Small dogs, melted chocolate, and Rage Against the Machine bring us home.

Haere ra.  Till we meet again.


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